Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wine Verdict: Tasty!

Before Thanksgiving, I was given one of Winexpert's kits - a Chilean Malbec/Shiraz blend.  Because I'm a forgetful doofus, I neglected to take photos of the winemaking process, or the wine as it aged.*

The instructions for the kit were easy to follow - simple and concise, with helpful pictures along the way and clear descriptions of the equipment/tools I'd need.  I bottled the wine before Christmas, and in a fit of overconfident bravado, proceeded to gift my friends and neighbors with bottles, along with instructions to wait until the middle of January.

Last night, we had dinner with my In-Laws (Hi, Norm & Sue!) and cracked open a bottle with dinner.  It was good - strong & bold, but not too oaky.  It was so good, in fact, we all had another bottle.  I've got a few bottles left, and I'm going to try and age those a bit longer to see how the flavor improves.

My Riesling is ticking along nicely, and should be bottled by the middle of February.

Can't recommend the Winexpert kits enough - they're easy to use, and serve as a good kit for a novice, and based on discussions with the guys at Austin Homebrew, they're just as rewarding for intermediate and expert winemakers.

Cautionary note:  winemaking, like brewing, is addictive, and can lead to a near-unstoppable desire to buy ALL THE EQUIPMENT.  Pace yourself, and buy the basics first, then gradually upgrade.  Your Friendly Local Homebrewing Store can help you select a starter kit (many have them already preselected) and recommend the best kits/additions.


* - This evening, I might open another bottle and get some photos of the wine in a glass.  I'll add them in when I get them.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Insert Cheesy Jokes Here


Saturday, as it turned out, was cheese day.  My wine hasn't quite fermented enough for racking, so instead I got out my cheesemaking equipment and ingredients (most of them Christmas gifts, some that I picked up last week from the good folks at Austin Homebrew Supply):

 This cheesemaker takes no crap.  I'm like the Samuel L. Jackson of cheese, sort of.  With a bit more hair.

This is where my homebrewing gear came in handy - I scoured my 5 and 8 gallon stock pots (also good for making turkey soup, BTW) until the interiors were spotless and sterile, then set them up as a double boiler for the milk.

 One the milk was at 90F, I added mesophilic starter culture,
 then stirred vigorously.
After adding the rennet, I stirred some more, then let it sit until I got curds, which I broke up and let sit for a bit longer...
 ... and then (carefully) poured them into a cheesecloth-lined colander to drain.
 Once drained, I transferred them to a clean bowl so I could remove more of the whey*.
 Then they were ready to knead with cheese salt...
 ... and put in the cheese press.
 After about 4 hours of pressure, it looked like this:
And after being pressed overnight, it looked more like a wheel of cheese:
I've got it sitting out so the rind can dry, then it'll be 3 weeks of curing, at the end of which I'll have a little over a pound of Caerphilly cheese.

Next on the agenda, probably either Edam or feta.  Maybe both.

* - The whey, I've discovered, makes for delicious bread and pizza dough, so I've got over a gallon of that to use up by the end of this week in the fridge.  Mmmm, carbs....

Friday, January 20, 2012

Everybody's Workin' For The Weekend

Got a busy weekend planned - I'm racking my second batch of wine (Reisling) and making some cheese (Caerphilly). In progress is a gallon of mead, made using this recipe. I got my hands on several 1-gallon glass jugs from some good local friends, and since 1 gallon is cheaper to make in terms of ingredients than 5 gallons, I'm starting small. Next up is mango-habanero mead, I think. It'll be several months before I know if it's drinkable, so look for a Vikings! Quaffing! Mead! post sometime in late spring or early summer.

According to my calendar, the wine I started around Thanksgiving is ready to drink now, though it will taste better the more it ages. If I gave you a bottle in a fit of misplaced generosity, you can drink it today.

Last weekend, I made a batch of mozzarella, which I then put on a pizza, and there was much nommage. Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of the process. Someone out there, remind me to get pics of cheesemaking this weekend.

That's what I got going on right now.  Lots of busy-work, lots of little projects to keep my mind busy.  You guys got any big projects coming up?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA Tastes Bad

I won't be posting any content today apart from this.

SOPA is a Bad Idea. It doesn't stop piracy, it doesn't do anything but make it easier for the US Government and corporations to censor sites they find objectionable, without trial or review. That's wrong.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rejected Blog Post Ideas

Not so much cooking stuff here as a list of ideas I have rejected (some summarily, some after a little thought) for posts on this blog in the last week:

  1. (video post) Cooking In Our Winter Underwear
  2. Horrible Meals People I Love Have Cooked For Me
  3. Dog Food - Is It Really That Bad For Humans?
  4. Foie Gras - Those $#@*!?&%$# Geese Deserve It
  5. A Week Of Toast
  6. How Intoxicated Can You Be And Still Use A Dull Knife To Slice A Hard Bagel?
I'm working on either a video post or a series of photos of me cooking something - likely pizza, or a soup.  

Coming soon, I'll be making cheese.  There will be pictures of that mess in action.